Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Finally moving my stuff to Berlin

Although I've had an apartment in Berlin since the beginning of the month, work commitments have kept me from being there so far. But on Thursday I finally make the move in earnest.

The story of my first month in Berlin has been a rather empty one, as I've barely been there. June is always a busy month in Brussels and between moderating conferences and taking on radio and video projects, I've had too much to do to make the move to Berlin just yet. It's not a bad problem to have I suppose, but I'm getting very eager to finally spend some time there.

That day will come on Thursday, when I finally move my things to my new Berlin apartment. I'm keeping an apartment in Brussels also, to have a place to stay when I come here for work. So today's packing challenge is figuring out which are the 'Brussels things', and which are 'Berlin things'.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Beach office

I'm moderating some conferences in Barcelona this week, and taking the opportunity to do some work on the beach.

My life will now be divided into 'Brussels weeks' and 'Berlin weeks'. It's a bit like the European Parliament's Strasbourg and Brussels weeks, I've even made a color-coded calendar to show where I am, when. Red is for Berlin, Blue is for Brussels, and Green is somewhere else.

This week is a Green week. I'm in Barcelona to moderate at some conferences about ecommerce. After two days of moderating, I've set myself up on the beach today with a little impromptu office. Not a bad view, I must say.

As I begin my freelancing adventure, I'm going to keep trying to find creative workplaces like this. Part of it is just a joke, to make my friends mad. But actually I find I'm getting quite a lo of work done in these unconventional locations. Last week I did some work in the royal forest in Laeken and I got much more done than I would have gotten at home (or in the Parliament's press room, where I've tended to set up shop).

So, here's to freelancing!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Why I love Eurovision

Having only discovered the song contest in 2007, I don't have the same preconceptions as Europeans.

I headed back to Brussels after a great weekend in Vienna for the Eurovision Song Contest Final. It was my fourth time attending the show and this time was undoubtedly the best.

Vienna went all out, decking out the whole city and setting up not one, but two Euroclubs for fans. The organisation was smooth (more than I can say for Copenhagen and Dusseldorf). I was there as press and was very lucky to be given a VIP ticket, so I had an amazing view. Maybe that explains my effusive praise for Vienna's hosting, but it really was objectively very good. A shame that they were rewarded by the public with nul points! Austria really didn't deserve that.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

I'm settling in Schöneberg

After some flirtation with the East, I've decided that my first home in Berlin will be in the West.

It's been an intense few days of apartment-hunting here in Berlin. By this afternoon I had it narrowed-down to two places - a two-month sublet in Prenzlauerberg, or a 7-month lease in Kreuzberg.

Neither apartment really thrilled me. The one in Prenzlauerberg was a bit short for the lease period, and it felt very far away. While walking around the neighbourhood, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was the Berlin equivalent of Park Slope in Brooklyn. There were a tonne of children, everywhere. It apparently has the highest concentration of children of any location in Germany. It was nice, but didn't really excite me.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Teutonic telecommunications troubles

As I've been discovering this week, German prepaid mobile plans leave much to be desired.

In 1999, when I moved from Boston to New York in order to transfer to a different university, there were a lot of logistical hassles along the way. I remember that one of the worst was changing my mobile phone.

Back then in the US, our mobile phone plans still had 'home ranges' outside of which you would pay a roaming surcharge to use your phone. This range was usually your state, or maybe a zone of three states. My mobile phone with a Massachusetts number would have been roaming in New York. So I had to change my phone plan. I also had to change my Massachusetts phone number to a New York one so that when people called me in New York they wouldn't be charged for a long-distance call.

Monday, 18 May 2015

So Dave, what's all this about you moving to Berlin?

Today begins a new chapter in my life as I search for an apartment in a new city.

I've arrived in Berlin for the first day of my German adventure. I'm here to cover a climate conference and then look for apartments, getting ready for the big move here next month.
I'm a journalist, originally from outside New York City, and I've been covering EU politics in Brussels for the past six years. It's been a great experience, but after so many years in the 'Brussels bubble' I realised I needed to get out and really see what's going on in Europe. The European elections last year really drove that message home to me. I've been trapped in the bubble too long and have lost touch with what 'real Europeans' are thinking.